Tuesday, 30 August 2016

eCigs and Heart Disease - The Patient's View

Many of the MSM outlets have been spewing out headlines today saying that eCigarettes are as bad as smoking. The worse culprit was The Sun as this was their front page feature.

We all know that The Sun is not the most reliable (or factual) source of such information but their headline screamed out to be heard regardless. But even in their article there was almost no actual supporting evidence for their headline with most commentators agreeing that eCigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

And that is the key - 'Less Harmful'. Nobody is claiming that eCigarettes are risk-free. There is nothing in life that is risk-free. Even non-smokers risk their health with every breath they take due to carcinogens in the air - wherever you are on the planet. In Towns/Cities you breath in exhaust fumes from cars. In the home your breath in carcinogenic fumes from cooking and from your central heating. In the countryside, you breathe in pollen from the plantlife. At the seaside (or indeed in deserts) you will be breathing in sand.

It's all very well these 'experts' spouting out about something they have 'discovered' using flawed methodology (who the hell vapes continuously for 30 mins ?). What they need is REAL-WORLD evidence.

Fortunately, I can provide that real-world evidence - ME !!

My journey into vaping is not commonly known. Most especially, the reasons why I got into vaping is not commonly known. What is known is that I have been vaping for just over 5 years. Not as long as some, but much longer than your average vaper.

You see, almost 6 years ago I suffered a Myocardial Infarction. The medics amongst you will know what that is. For those that are not medics, it meant that the arteries feeding into my heart became clogged and starved my heart of blood and oxygen. The end-result was severe pain in my chest and left arm. If not treated, it would have meant my eventual (and painful) death. But of course, I was treated. Two stents later (a stent is a device placed in the blocked artery which is then expanded to relieve the blockage and allow the blood to flow to the heart), I was on the path to recovery.

In the aftermath, much attention was focused on various aspects of my lifestyle and diet, but of course the thing they focused on the most was the fact that up until that time I was a smoker. I had smoked for over 25 years and this, I was advised by the Cardiac Surgeon, was the main cause of my problem. They conveniently skirted over the fact that heart disease is a hereditary condition that had also afflicted my father (who never smoked a cigarette in his entire life), and actually killed his father (my grandfather) and his brother (my uncle).

The problem was, as soon as I was released from the confines of the hospital, all I wanted to do was smoke a cigarette. Eventually, it happened and I was soon smoking again. So I started searching for the best ways of quitting cigarettes and staying quit (having already, in previous years, tried and failed to quit through the nicotine gum, the spray, hypnotism and cold turkey). But this time I found the eCigarette. It was only a simple rudimentary device that I first got my hands on, but I knew that this time I stood a chance because this time I had found something I actually liked.

So, over the next 5 years I continued my vaping journey, upgrading and updating the devices I used, each time finding the experience improved. Now, here I am, a (relatively veteran) vaper of more than 5 years experience.

So what effect has vaping had on my heart and my health ?

A few weeks ago I had my annual checkup at the Cardio clinic. The results told me that my arteries remain clear and strong with no deterioration (which rather blows Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos claims out of the water). My heart is also healthy and working very well. My lung capacity is so good that the nurse administering that particular test was moved to make the statement 'Now there are the lungs of a non-smoker' ( I declined to correct her that I had once smoked for over 25 years, but now vaped).

I am not going to claim I am completely healthy as one of the valves going into my heart is not working correctly and requires an operation to be repaired. However, the valve problem is also hereditary (as, once again, my Father also had the same problems with heart valves at my age).

My Cardiac Consultant knows that I vape and he does not have any issue with it, especially as he visibly see the benefit to my heart and arteries that my switch to vaping has brought. He certainly does not attribute my disfunctioning valve problem to vaping.

The doubters and the ANTZ will no doubt class me as an 'anecdote'. Someone to be dismissed. I prefer to see myself as real world evidence of the benefits of switching to vaping. My experiences were not created in a Laboratory, unlike the observations made by Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos. I am a real person, I vape like a real person would vape. I live a day to day life which is not spent in a Laboratory.

Above all, I am living proof of the health benefits that can be gained by switching to vaping. I am living proof that vaping does not damage my health. Quite the reverse in fact because my health has improved immeasurably since I switched to vaping.

So Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos. Get out of your Laboratory and come and see REAL LIFE examples of the benefits of vaping. Vapers don't live in labs, they live in the real world. You should try it sometime !!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Decline of Pub Sports

By pure chance, a conversation on Twitter today sparked off my thoughts of how much the pub trade has changed since I first started frequenting pubs in the late 1970's.

At that time, a regular feature of lunchtime TV was a program called 'Indoor League' - which was hosted by the late Fred Trueman. That program was almost a microcosm of the type of entertainment which one would find in pubs of those days. It was arguably the very start of what became the popularity of Darts as a TV phenomenon of the time. It was not uncommon to see the top dart players of the day competing on 'Indoor League'. I can still recall seeing the likes of Alan 'Ton-Machine' Glazier, Alun Evans, Leighton Rees, Jockey Wilson, Eric Bristow, John Lowe et al regularly appearing on the program. Soon after, they all became household names as the World Darts Championship started appearing on the TV.

But this got me thinking about pub entertainment of that time and how much it differs from the pub landscape of today. It was almost impossible in those days to walk into a pub that didn't have a dart board - which was almost always in use. The ubiquitous pool table had, at that time, not quite become the phenomenon it is these days, though many pubs did have them nevertheless. However, what was far more common in many pubs of that time was Bar Billiards. Because you always took your shot from the bottom end of the table, a Bar Billiard table could be pushed against a wall or placed in the corner of a room.

It was also very common to see sports like Table Skittles regularly played, alongside tables of people playing dominoes or cards. Larger urban pubs would sometimes even have skittle alleys as part of the interior and such venues were popular with groups of work colleagues after a hard day at work.

These were all sports that featured on 'Indoor League'.

Almost every pub had a darts team, pool/bar billiards team, (bar) skittles team. There was even a dominoes league at one point in the village where I grew up. It was in these smoke-filled atmospheres that people socialised in massive numbers. Some pubs may have had a TV in them, but as I remember it was usually only in  clubs that TV's appeared in any great numbers. Jukeboxes were certainly around at that time, but were usually quite limited in what choice of music they had due to the need to hold any number of actual vinyl single records (the most popular songs almost always had a scratch on them due to wear and tear) and they rarely had the juice to overpower a bar with sound. Then of course, many pubs also had a live band playing on Friday and Saturday nights. When there was a band playing in the pub, it was literally standing-room only - and even that standing room was limited.

What I remember most of all was that the bars were almost always full to the brim of people having a drink and generally socialising/enjoying themselves. As most villages/towns/cities had a plethora of pubs/clubs, it was not uncommon to start at one end of town and work your way to the other end visiting as many establishments on the way as you could handle (in those days I can recall buying a pint of cider for as little as 25p a pint).

Now, more than 30 years on, there are far fewer of those pubs around. But what has struck me is how the social element of pub going has disappeared. In those days I could walk into any pub in the town/village and be guaranteed to bump into somebody I knew in every one of them. Why ?

Well, for one thing I played for my local Darts team. That meant frequent visits to other pubs in the area as we competed in the many leagues and cup competitions. The fact that most pubs had many other teams for the different pub sports also meant that people who played those in other pubs would frequently be seen in my local. In short, you got to know everyone through these games/sports. It MADE the social atmosphere of the pubs.

In 2016, very few pubs even have any of those games/sports facilities available and consequently the many different leagues and cup competitions have long gone as more and more pubs have closed down. Where I live now, not one of the (very few remaining) pubs even have a dart board. Some of them will have a Pool table, but you will not find any that have a Bar Billiard table, or Table Skittles and it is very rare indeed to see people playing dominoes or cards anywhere.

There are many and varied reasons for the demise of the pub trade. Chief among them (in my opinion) are the Smoking Ban (which instantaneously alienated smokers - many never to return), simple economics, health & safety and changes to licensing (both alcohol and entertainment). Most pubs in 2016 will have a pool table (if you are lucky), maybe Sky TV Sports (if the Licensee makes enough money to be able to afford Sky's astronomical fees), sometimes a jukebox and occasionally a live band. That is about it. It is unlikely that you will know everyone in the bar like you would have 30 years ago because there are no team sports being played. In short, pubs have become far less sociable than they were due to the general demise of the pub trade.

It's a shame. I look back to what the pub trade was, and what it is now, and the two are barely recognisable.

So, what you remember/miss about the vibrant pub culture we once used to have ?

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Trouble With Prodnoses

Two news articles caught my eye this morning and got me thinking, and it's all to do with the ever-deepening phenomena of the prodnoses. That is, people who have nothing better to do than interfere in the lives of others simply because they can.

There are two distinct types in this category:

1. Professional Prodnoses

Professional prodnoses can be found in an array of (usually tax-funded) organisations or charities. Quite a few of those professional prodnoses are Politicians originating from the Left of the political spectrum and delight in making laws interfering in our day-to-day lives and civil liberties simply because 'they can'. However, the vast majority of these professional prodnoses are to be found in the various (tax-funded) public health organisations and charities. These people attempt to justify their (often hugely inflated) salaries and egos by continually hounding the politicians to introduce new laws further restricting the personal freedoms of the general public based on worthless junk-science that they probably thought up on the back of a fag-packet. When they are not doing that, then they are usually using their contacts to get their junk-science out as fact in the compliant national press.

That these tax-sponging non-entities are well remunerated was amply shown by the recent Tax Payers Alliance study into the incredible wages that many in their 'profession' earn. Chris Snowdon gave an excellent commentary on this in his recent blog that can be found here (he also has a link to the full TPA report).

As Chris points out, the key findings were:

  • There were at least 325 individuals employed in public health who received remuneration of over £100,000 in 2014-15
  • 43 of which had total remuneration over £150,000
  • There were at least 105 public health employees in local government with total remuneration of over £100,000 in 2014-15
    • 27 had total remuneration of over £150,000
    • Two Local Authority Directors of Public Health had total remuneration of over £200,000 in Cornwall (£207,302) and Oxfordshire (£202,349)

Now compare that to another report that came out in the Daily Express today which can be found here. In that report we see that the funding of Trading Standards has fallen massively since 2009. It tells how funding has fallen from £213M to £124M in that time period.

Trading Standards, in case you are not aware, have an important role to play in our society. They are people who ensure that the goods we buy in stores are not counterfeit or dangerous, they are involved in areas like vehicle emissions, electrical product safety and ensuring food hygiene standards, such as their recent involvement in the horse meat scandal. In short, they protect us, the public, from unscrupulous acts or sheer carelessness, holding those responsible to account for their actions. It is a useful and vital service.

So how on earth have we ended up in the situation where we have an ever growing public health lobby, each coming up with ever more dubious junk-science to justify their existence (and wages), putting ever more restrictions (or imposing taxes when they fail to get said restrictions) on the general public, seemingly running riot and expanding exponentially. Few of the edicts from these public health bodies do anything more than plunge millions of people into poverty or places severe restrictions on business to trade (e.g. the smoking ban in Pubs that took away the owners ability to decide what to allow on their premises).

Meanwhile, bodies like Trading Standards - who actually do provide a valuable and useful service to the public - get cut down to such an extent that they are no longer able to perform the ever lengthening (thanks to public health) list of tasks they are expected to perform.

The function of Government is protect its citizens from harm. It is NOT to interfere in people's lives and civil liberties. Yet the above examples prove that the Governments priorities are completely the wrong way around.

2. Amateur Prodnoses

It is fair to say the amateur prodnoses have probably been around since people first started thinking for themselves thousands of years ago in our evolution. We have all seen them and we all know them. They are the (otherwise ordinary) people who will whinge about just about anything - because they can and have nothing better to do. They are the ones who complain about the noise from a pub that THEY chose to live near. They used to complain about people smoking in pubs, but now complain that they cannot sit outside in the beer garden on a warm summer day because it is full of smokers. They complain about kids playing a game of football on the (rare) patches of green in suburban communities. They complain about parking, about traffic etc etc etc. In short, they complain because they can. The problem is, due to the actions of the Professional Prodnoses, they are now taken far more seriously.

An example of this was shared earlier today by @oldmudgie in a tweet about an article that has appeared in the pub trade journal The Morning Advertiser.

The gist of the story is that a pub in County Durham has been forced to remove a sign that simply said 'Its all about meat', because it offended vegetarians. Now that in itself is not really the issue. What really got my attention was how activists have basically dictated to the pub in question how they should be conducting their business and what they choose to sell, even going so far as to make death threats.

What on earth is the world coming to ?   If you don't like what a business is doing, then don't give them your custom. Go somewhere else. It really is that simple.

I have to question how many of the people who complained about either of the issues actually go to a pub with any regularity. It was exactly the same when the smoking ban was introduced. You had all the non-smokers celebrating how they had reclaimed the spaces from the 'dirty smokers'. The problem is, the majority of those non-smokers hardly ever go out to a pub, so over the past 10 years we have witnessed the slow demise of the pub trade as the unwelcome smokers decide to no longer give their patronage the places that have been forced to make them feel unwelcome and consequently those pubs close.

The age of the prodnoses - amateur or professional - is slowly killing our society. An unsilent minority are dictating to the majority what kind of world we should be living in. We are heading towards a very sterile world of the future where everything you eat, consume, desire, say, think, possess, or wear will be carefully regulated and decided for you by the prodnoses. It is Big Brother becoming reality. We are sleepwalking into this because we are allowing the prodnoses to dictate the world we live in.

It's time to wake up and take back control people. The only way to do that is kick up a bigger fuss and noise than the prodnoses can muster. Though an excellent place to start would be to stop the enormous amount of tax money going to myriad of public health bodies and reassign them to a body that actually DOES something USEFUL - like Trading Standards (and probably still save a shedload of public money).

The world is upside down and is going to hell in a barrel otherwise.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Buckle Up and Prepare for Wales Vape Ban Battle - Part 2

A few months ago, I noted that Wales was about to get a new Chief Medical Officer as the successor to Dr Ruth Hussey was announced. Her replacement was to be Dr Frank Atherton.

A quick Google search soon revealed the following from this site:

So the guy is an Englishman, but what should draw Vapers eyes is the fact that at that time he was employed as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Dept of Health & Wellness in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Canada, as all Vapers know, is almost as backwards as Australia when it comes to Harm Reduction, and in particular, in regard to Vaping.

So it came as no surprise when this news report appeared today. You can read the article at your leisure, but the pertinent part to note is the following:

So Welsh Vapers, if you thought the battle was won back in April, you have another think coming. The wheel has turned full circle and it seems we are about to enter into a new fight to save Vaping in Wales.

We now have a completely new Senedd. Many of the pro-vaping voices are still there and I would expect we can still rely on them to remain firm vape-allies. Unfortunately, several of the other pro-vape allies have either retired or got voted out of office. However, there are also a lot of new faces in the Welsh Assembly and the task now is to get in front of those new faces and head this threat off before it starts to gain any momentum.

Buckle up folks. The Welsh Vape War Part Two is about to commence !!